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Repair of Fischer Cables Discontinued by TCS


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#1 Clive Tobin

Clive Tobin
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Posted 15 August 2005 - 02:27 PM

Repair of Fischer Cables Discontinued

The Fischer 11-pin connectors that are used for speed control connection on Arri and
some other cameras are small and difficult to wire. The physical small size means that a
very high degree of skill and manual dexterity under a magnifying glass is required in
order to put them together without shorted or intermittent solder joints. For many years
we have outsourced this assembly work as it is too difficult for us to do ourselves.

Some users seem to be unaware that these are locking connectors. It is always very poor
practice to try to unplug any connector by yanking on the cable; this is especially true
with the Fischer. It locks into place and cannot possibly be removed by pulling on the
cable; instead you must pull on the latch release sleeve to disable the lock and permit the
plug to come out, by continuing to pull on the sleeve and not on the cable.

The situation is aggravated by the small size of the connector, which requires that
multiple very small diameter and thus weak wires be bundled together within the cable.
At the same time, the cable clamp is not very effective, and this fact together with the
flexible rubber jacket of the cable, permits all stress to be borne by the weak wires and
the small solder joints inside the plug. This causes wires to fray or break, causing short
circuits inside the plug, or breaks hidden somewhere inside the cable itself. Short circuits
can cause damage to the camera, or to the Milliframe or Videoframe Controller, or other
connected accessory. Breaks inside the cable are invisible and can cause unreliable
operation later. If the cable shield winds up touching the metal shell of the connector,
even this seemingly innocent condition can cause the camera to go berserk and need
repair.

The company that we outsource cable assembly to specializes in quantity production,
meaning that they are happy to make up 25 new cables but are less than thrilled about
repairing one typically filthy, sticky, abused cable. As mentioned above, we ourselves
currently lack the required skills to work on miniature connectors, and in addition the
cable may have additional breaks or partial breaks hidden inside causing it to be
unreliable after repair. Often the Fischer connector itself is unusable and repairing such a
cable would cost more than buying a new quantity-produced one.

Therefore to protect our reputation and our sanity, TCS will no longer accept Fischer
cables for repair. We recommend that damaged cables should preferably be replaced with
new cables. We suggest that users search around for a qualified source for doing these
repairs, if they insist on repairing instead of replacing. User repairs are never satisfactory
in our experience, with short circuits, solder bridges and incorrect connections (including
connecting the wrong wires to the pins or letting the shield touch the shell).

We recommend that all users be advised of the delicate nature of a Fischer cable, and the
necessity for unplugging it by pulling on the release sleeve only, ideally by signing an
agreement to pay for replacing a damaged one. Cables should be inspected and tested
after return from rental, or use by students. Ignorant or brutal renters of equipment should
be charged for a new cable if they return one in unusable condition. We do not warrant
equipment, including cables, against physical damage.

The Fischer 11-pin connectors are very nicely made high quality ones, but they are small
with delicate connections and inadequate cable clamping, and we don?t think they were a
good choice for exposure to field abuse or use by untrained personnel.

Tobin Cinema Systems, Inc.
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